Vauxhall Corsa review
What do Buzz Aldrin, Wham! and the Vauxhall Corsa all have in common? Not much at first glance, but all three are actually regrettably notable for famously playing second fiddle to a more celebrated counterpart.
Buzz Aldrin was the second man on the moon behind Neil Armstrong, Last Christmas was famously kept off the Christmas Number One spot by Bob Geldof’s Band Aid, and the Corsa, it seems, has forever been snapping at the heels of the Ford Fiesta.
Throughout all of 2014, sales data consistently showed that the top-selling cars in the UK were the Ford Fiesta, followed by the larger Focus and then the Vauxhall Corsa coming in third place.
All of that could be set to change, however, with the introduction of the new fourth-generation Corsa late last year. Keeping much of the same familiar hallmarks that the Corsa first became famous for, Vauxhall has otherwise gutted it and filled it inside and out with new upmarket features and kit.
Considering that the current-generation Fiesta is starting to get on a bit, could the new Corsa finally steal the crown from its biggest rival?
At a glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the new Corsa looks very similar to its predecessor, with the same door pillars and glass areas as before.
This, however, is all part of Vauxhall’s plan. According to the company, existing customers liked the look of the previous car so much that they decided to keep it; classic case of not fixing what isn’t broken.
On closer inspection, it becomes clear that while the general shape and design is still the same, Vauxhall’s designers have paid close attention to making the fourth-gen Corsa really stand out from the crowd, with a comprehensive reskin and some pretty neat features.
Updates include refreshed bodywork and new lights with a funky shark-fine style cutout, along with a nose and grille that’s clearly inspired by the Adam city car.
Closer to the ground before, with low-set LED running lights, the new Corsa also features some nifty creases along the sides of the doors, while the rear lights are extended over the tailgate for an integrated wraparound look.
Three- and five-door models are available, each with their own unique look, while the new Corsa also features a range of fresh wheel designs to complete its sharpened-up look.
If the new look on the outside isn’t quite as obvious as some expected, climbing inside the cabin shows that the differences between the old and the new in the interior are much more apparent.
Gone is the old dashboard, replaced with a new design that adds the touchscreen infotainment system from the Adam, plus a slick gloss black plastic fascia for a more stylish appearance. Higher-spec cars get extra silver touches around the cabin, plus a grey-metallic painted finish to complement the glossy dash.
As well as looking better, it’s also as easy to use as ever and Vauxhall have been smart to separate the air conditioning from the touchscreen system, so it’s easy to simply reach down and dial in how warm or cool you want the interior, rather than having to fumble around with the screen.
While most cars tend to get bigger with each generation, the new Corsa uses the same basic underbody as its predecessor. As a result, interior dimensions are unchanged and you can fit up to five people inside the car, though taller occupants probably won’t want to spend too long cooped up in the rear.
The 285-litre boot is pretty spacious, however, with enough room for large suitcases and various shopping bags, while it’ll also swallow baby buggies with ease if the rear seats are folded down.
In total, Vauxhall offers the new Corsa in an extensive nine trim levels. Some might consider this to be overkill, but it means that buyers can specify a model which is exactly right for them, meaning that they don’t have to sacrifice equipment that they want or opt for more expensive options that they don’t want.
Standard kit includes a heated windscreen, tyre pressure monitoring system and a choice of 14- or 15-inch wheels. Moving up the trim levels adds premium touches like cruise control and a leather steering wheel, 16-inch black alloy wheels, sports pedals and chrome exhaust pipes.
Opting for the top-of-the-range trim levels adds LED daytime running lights and a range of aesthetic upgrades like larger wheels alongside parking sensors, a trip computer and sports seats in addition to things like sports suspension and rear spoilers.
On the road
Engine options for the new Corsa are pretty extensive; in total, four engines are available with a range of outputs that vary between 69bhp and 113bhp. It also features a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, equipped with stop-start technology and a turbocharger to boost power and efficiency at the same time.
Available in outputs of 89bhp or 113bhp, Vauxhall says that it can manage fuel economy of around 54.7mpg, a pretty decent figure all things considered.
For drivers more concerned with saving money than driving fast, the most economical option is a 94bhp 1.3-litre turbodiesel, which will reportedly return up to an incredible 87.8mpg with only 85g/km of CO2 emissions, making it road tax-free.
As well as upping the capability of its engines, Vauxhall has also tweaked and retweaked the Corsa to increase its road handling and make it a better challenger to the Fiesta, which is widely considered the best-handling supermini on the market.
A new suspension system has been added to the Corsa’s framework which makes it considerably more agile on the road, while models bound for the UK have been given a unique steering set-up to cope with twisty B-roads. Stable and sure-footed, its ride quality is definitely a lot less stiff than the Fiesta, even if it isn’t quite as responsive and can feel ever-so-slightly jiggly over potholes.
In the city, the new Corsa also impresses thanks to its optional parking sensors to make reversing into tight spaces a doddle, while it also benefits from Vauxhall’s City Steering Mode, which lightens up steering response below 30mph to make it easier to navigate tight corners and streets.
While the market-leading Fiesta might still be a little more fun to drive, the Corsa certainly punches far above its weight in pretty much every other area, trumping the Ford with its wide range of kit options and comfortable suspension.
It’s economical too, thanks largely to its frugal turbodiesel engines and the new three-pot turbocharged petrol, but perhaps most importantly of all, it undercuts the entry-level Fiesta by around £1,000.
What’s clear is that Vauxhall has worked extremely hard to create a Fiesta killer and, in that respect, has largely succeeded, at least until the next-generation supermini from Ford lands.
But even if the American giant manages to create a car that’s better-equipped and better to drive than the fourth-generation Corsa, it doesn’t really matter that much. Cheap to run, smart inside and easy to drive around town, the new Corsa is everything a driver could want in a new car.
The fact that Vauxhall also throws in a three-year 60,000-mile warranty only puts the icing on the cake…
Available to buy now from Perrys dealerships around the country, the new Vauxhall Corsa is priced from £8,995. For more information or to enquire about deals, why not get in touch with us today